BWW Blog: Meet Ryan Bauer-Walsh of Goodspeed's LMNOP
Hi there BWW readers!
When I was a senior in college at the Hartt School, we were lucky to be located in Hartford Connecticut- just a short drive from East Haddam where Goodspeed Musicals is located. The school partnered up with Goodspeed creating a fantastic opportunity for the students to be a part of the Goodspeed Festival of New Artists, where up-and-coming and established composers had an opportunity to hone their newest works, and see and hear these works in progress on Goodspeed's famous Opera House stage. The Hartt Musical Theatre students were invited down, and auditioned for the new composers and were then plugged into the shows for a series of staged readings. I ended up in two readings, and met the wonderful team at Goodspeed in the process. I had just had my tonsils out 3 weeks earlier, and I was incredibly nervous that I wouldn't be healed in time for the festival, as I knew what an amazing opportunity it would be. But as soon as I arrived, it felt like home. Everyone was so nice, and I ended up playing a lead in one show, and a supporting role in another. A short time after the festival, I was brought in to audition for Nell Benjamin's PIRATES! And I was cast in the ensemble--My first professional production right out of school.
Goodspeed gave me so many wonderful gifts, and along with the massive amount of post conservatory training education in a professional environment, they also gave me my equity card. That was in the fall of 2006 when I performed in the ensemble of Pirates! Since then I have had the pleasure of working all over the place which would not have been as swift and wonderful a journey had it not been for my time at Goodspeed. Now it is 2013, and I am finally back in East Haddam. I have remained close with the Goodspeed family over the years and I am overjoyed to say that I have come home!
Through Goodspeed's educational programs, and productions, they have given this same opportunity to countless young people. Two of my fellow Hartt classmates who are recent graduates are actually working here on the main stage in "Hello, Dolly!" As soon as I got here I knew I wanted to somehow thank them for all they had done for me. But what could I do for a theatre company that does so much for so many?
The Goodspeed has built a one of a kind Artist's Village on its campus, featuring beautiful New England style homes for their staff and performers. Out in front of the house I am staying in, there is an Artist's Garden. The housing and landscaping here at Goodspeed is wonderful. Not only does it feel like home- it feels like a vacation!
There is a creek that flows through the campus and down to the Connecticut River by which sits the Goodspeed Opera House. There are quaint stores, and a few restaurants, hiking trails, and river boats.
Inspired by the nature all around, and me having a bit of a green thumb, I decided what I could do. I wanted to do something that represented my growth. On the side of my house in the Artists Village was a small plot of unplanted soil. I looked at this fertile soil, probably the same way Goodspeed sees the potential in new pieces and young artists-- And I decided to invest in it. A quick trip to the small grocery store just across the swing bridge to pick up supplies, and off to work I went. I planted Green Beans, Dill, Zinnias, Giant sunflowers, Miniature sunflowers, sugar snap peas, marigolds and wildflowers.
This is my first time doing a contract with Goodspeed's Norma Terris theatre, and even though I am only here for a month and a half, I knew it would help me make the time feel tangible. So I gathered up all the loose field stone I could find down by the river, and stone by stone, and seed by seed I created a little place where actors could also spend some time, and see the progress of growth in a way that would not only yield a decent harvest, but in a way that would also make them feel invested, and grounded during their time here. Just like Goodspeed has cultivated so many careers, and helped so many new shows go to Broadway- NINETEEN so far - I am cultivating a garden for artists to enjoy not only today but far in to the future.
I am in a show called LMNOP written by Paul Loesel and Scott Burkell based on the book Ella Minnow Pea by Mark Dunn. Each week, I will take a picture of the garden to show its growth and I will update you all on the creative leaps and bounds of the show as we construct, sow, water and harvest applause in this fantastic piece. I hope you will join me on this adventure in gardening and the daily life of an actor creating a new musical here at Goodspeed Musicals. Hope to see you soon! -Ryan